quarantine file for divorce

Quarantine made it clear we need a divorce

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COVID-19 has thrown the entire world for a loop. We feel this in many ways. Two areas in particular are relationships and the legal system. In quarantine, many marriages deteriorate to the point of failure. And though open, the courts currently operate at a diminished capacity. So, what can you do when quarantine makes it clear you need a divorce? Can you file for divorce now or do you have to wait? How do you proceed? 

Rick Jones, one of our founders, regularly appears on the Danny Bonaduce and Sarah Morning Show. Even through quarantine, he shows up on the airwaves to answer family law questions from listeners.

On a recent episode, a woman finds herself in this very predicament. Being forced into close proximity with her husband every moment of every day made it crystal clear they need to end their marriage. She wants to know about the next step. Can she file for divorce now or does she need to pump the brakes? 

Related Reading: Divorce and Coronavirus: How COVID-19 Affects Divorce

Listen to the Call Below:

Caller: “My marriage was in pretty rough shape before [quarantine]. But the added stress of not being able to get away from each other has completely pushed things over the edge…I’ve thought about [divorce] many times over the years, but I really need to follow through on filing for divorce for my own sanity. Is it even possible? Is it an essential business? Are the courts open?”

Related Reading: Will Coronavirus Cause a Spike in the Divorce Rate?

Are the Courts Open?

Rick: “Yes, I’m glad you asked that, too, because I want to clarify for everybody else. The continuation of our legal system and the enforcement of court orders that are already in place is absolutely essential. The county courts in the Puget Sound area remain open, to an extent. Almost everything being telephonic. And it’s limited to things that are considered emergent. So, it does have one hand tied behind its back a little bit, but it is operational.

“And, as a matter of fact, Goldberg Jones does remain open as an essential business.”

Related Reading: Long-Distance Parenting, Co-Parenting, and Divorce During COVID-19

Can She File for Divorce?

Rick: “To get to the specifics of your question: yes, the court system is allowing case filings, initial case filings.

“What’s important about that, before I dive into your situation even more specifically, is, even in circumstances where it may be uncontested—in other words, there’s nothing urgent about it—the fact that you can file a case means that the clock starts ticking.

“So, if you’re able to reach an agreement, or have an agreement already, and be done by the end of the waiting period, 90 days [in Washington], well, you’ve started that clock ticking and each day that goes by, you’re that much closer.

“The courts are also allowing agreed finalizations of divorce right now.

“Now, beyond that. Let’s say that you’ve got a contested case, that there is no agreement. If the two of you are able to peacefully coexist, then it really kind of stops at the filing. The court system—again, because they’re limited to emergent [cases]—they’re not trying to address, or don’t have the means to address, anything that doesn’t involve somebody’s personal safety or a child’s significant well-being.

“If, however, your circumstance is a little bit more challenging, and you are either in fear for your own safety, or there’s maybe a history of domestic violence, or you’re in fear for the safety of your children, that’s when the courtroom door is open for things like emergency restraining orders.”

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